Brooklyn Inventors Bring Animated GIFs to Life

Andrew Lampard
This Could Be Big
Brooklyn Inventors Bring Animated GIFs to Life

Are you a “light painter”?

You can answer “yes” if you’ve ever waved a flaming marshmallow or etched your name with a sparkler in front of camera at night.

Light painting is the photographic technique that captures light motions with long camera exposures. Although light painting’s origins can be traced to the start of the 20th Century, it remains, for the most part, a low-fidelity pursuit. Most people stick to words or random patterns.

But that could soon change when Pixelstick, a consumer light-painting tool, hits the market.

Invented by Stephen McGuigan and Duncan Frazier, a duo that collaborates under the incorporated name Bitbanger Labs, the Pixelstick is a 6-foot aluminum rod fitted with 198 LED. Each LED light corresponds with an image pixel. After loading an image onto the Pixelstick with an SD card, move the Pixelstick in front of a camera set to a long exposure. The result resembles an animated-GIF come to life.

“It started when we tried to work light painting into a time lapse,” said Duncan, who once made his living as a freelance stills photographer. “We’ve refined it to the point where you can see photorealistic images.”

The Bitbanger duo envision their invention as a viable tool for creative professionals and hobbyists. And, judging by their blockbuster reception on Kickstarter, they might already have taped a wellspring of demand.

With 30 days to go (as of this article’s publication), they have raised $386,230 on the crowd-funding site--nearly four times their original goal.

So, tired of painting light shapes with flashlights? Watch the video above this article to see the Bitbanger guys test out their invention under the Brooklyn Bridge.